The Harlem Dancer
Applauding youths laughed with young prostitutes
And watched her perfect, half-clothed body sway ;
Her voice was like the sound of blended flutes
Blown by black players upon a picnic day.
She sang and danced on gracefully and calm,
The light gauze hanging loose about her form ;
To me she seemed a proudly-swaying palm,
Grown lovelier for passing through a storm.
Upon her swarthy neck black shiny curls
Luxuriant fell ; and tossing coins in praise,
The wine-flushed, bold-eyed boys, and even the girls,
Devoured her shape with eager, passionate gaze ;
But looking at her falsely-smiling face,
I knew her self was not in that strange place.
Claude McKay (1889-1944) was a Jamaican poet and an important writer in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s.